Thursday, February 4, 2010

How Can You Help Me?


Unmarked, non-working faregates are something we've noticed many times.

From reader MS:

The King Street Station has five ticket gates for exiting the station. Four exit gates are on one side of the kiosk and the handicap gate also functions as an exit gate. On Jan. 15, it only had three functioning gates, including the handicapped one.

Of course the nice thing about the gates is that the Metro user usually does not know it is not functioning until they try to use their smart card/ticket.

This sort of slows things up as people behind you see there is a problem and merge into the operating gates. So, it sort of becomes a bottleneck if you have four lanes of people trying to merge into the ones that are working.

If Metro had top notch employees, they would monitor the flow and promptly take action to clear the non-functioning gates.

Of course today, A. Di*** was chatting with a roving Metro policeman in the warm kiosk. After being fooled into going to one of the non-working gates, waiting my turn to go through one of the two regular operating gates, I walked over to the window and simply said, “Why don’t you go clear those gates?”

I got a blank look, so I’m not sure the look was for “Why are you interrupting my conversation?” or one of “What do you want me to do about it?”

I turned and walked away.

I then decided to write a complaint and went back to the kiosk. There were no comment forms outside of the kiosk.

After ignoring me for about a minute while continuing to chat with the police officer, I asked for a complaint form. She handed it to me, and as I walked away, she and the Metro police officer were laughing. And of course, the gates were still not functioning.

I have to admit, I guess it was funny. I was the foolish one to expect the Metro employee to take any active interest in returning non-operating gates to functioning status or to expect the Metro police officer to do his job and not be shooting the breeze in the kiosk during rush hour.

Do I begrudge people chatting in a warm kiosk? No, but it should be secondary to keeping the operation flowing, including clearing the gates when they malfunction.

Perhaps they should change the logo on their vests from “How can I help you” to “How can you help me? After all, we Metro riders are there to serve the Metro employees, right?

A co-worker told me that the two gates were still not working when he came through about 15 minutes later.

Good Job Metro.

According to Metro, "station managers are equipped to reset a faregate as well as remove a jammed fare card. If this does not remedy the problem, the station manager needs to call for assistance.

If a gate is taken out of service, the red do not enter light should be lit on both sides, eliminating the need for any further signage."

Other items:
Add this super fail to the budget deficit (Famous DC)
The bar is very low for some (WaPo)
In the dark (WaPo)

Photo: M. Hoek

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

huntington station is the same way, there are 5 faregates and one handicap, the other day, 2 were working, one in each direction (and the handicap). Same problem...

Anonymous said...

One of the gates at King St is still not working. I've never noticed the red lights on the gates at King St. Are they even there?

Anonymous said...

"If a gate is taken out of service, the red do not enter light should be lit on both sides, eliminating the need for any further signage."

Catch-22 situation. The employee has to take the gate out of service. Until the Metro employee gets off their FAT A$$ and tries to clear the gate, the gate shows a Green Light.
Typical dumb response from Metro.

Anonymous said...

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689.

As long as they continue to enable this behavior by their members, you can complain all day, and NOTHING is going to change. Ever.

Anonymous said...

I shudder to think what it will be like when they force debit/credit card use on those gates. The gates at my stations are always requiring you to swipe several times before they 'wake up.' The card machines are even worse. Nothing like standing there looking like an idiot waving your "un-magic card" at a machine reminiscent of a bad D-rated sci fi movie.

Anonymous said...

This is very annoying. How can we get these lazy clearly overpaid simpletons to do their job? WMATA is too slow to act in the immediate situation and the union will just fight to retain a bad employee (who is probably some kind of criminal or drug addict).

Until bad employees start getting routinely fired and these people know some fear I doubt they'll start working.

I would say take video of them while you ask them questions but why should the onus be on the commuting public who are frankly busy going from point A to point B in a broken delayed frustrating way?

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